Maybe the price guarantee isn’t all-inclusive?

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By Christopher Elliott

When the price of Steven Estrella’s Cancun vacation takes a nosedive after he’s already paid for it, he tries to make a claim under his online travel agency’s price guarantee. But for some reason, the company never processes his claim. What’s going on? And will he ever see a refund?

Question

I am writing to complain about poor service I received in connection with Travelocity’s price guarantee. We recently returned from an 11-night trip to Cancun, Mexico. Our package, which included airfare and accommodations at the Valentin Imperial Maya all-inclusive resort, cost $4,615.

About a week before we left, I found the exact same package on Travelocity for $1,170 less. I filled out a form on its site and followed up several times by email. I sent screenshots as proof. Each time they responded they claimed to have not received the proof. Finally, I posted the proof to a website to be sure they could see it.

Last night, I called Travelocity and was told they would get back to me in a few hours by phone. They did not. I have always been happy with Travelocity’s service — until now. Why is this such a problem? Travelocity has a guarantee. Is it asking too much for them to honor it? — Steven Estrella, Fort Washington, Pa.

Answer

You qualified for Travelocity’s price guarantee, which promises a $50 coupon and up to $500 back if you find a “qualifying” lower rate up until the day before you check in. Travelocity should have processed your claim — or at least responded to it — promptly.

It appears that the proof Travelocity needed never arrived. You say you sent the files several times, but Travelocity’s representatives say they never saw them. Rather than simply resending the files, you might have considered reducing the size of the files. Often, email spam filters block large images. (Related: I lost my vacation. Can I get a refund from Travelocity?)

Still, it’s unlikely that the files sent through the form, email and finally posted to a website, were all rejected by the system. Instead, it’s far likelier this was an electronic hiccup on Travelocity’s side. (Here’s our guide to booking an airline ticket.)

I’m given the impression from dealing with many price guarantee complaints (not just Travelocity’s) that these types of requests aren’t assigned a high priority. As with any travel business, a lot of effort is expended on quickly processing your purchases. It takes only a few seconds to remove the money from your credit card account, but weeks, months and even years to return it.

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What incentive — other than making a customer happy — does an online travel agency have to expeditiously refund the money under a price guarantee? I can’t think of one.

You took all the right steps by sending your request through the site, then by email and finally posting the evidence of the bargain online. I have a few contacts at Travelocity on my site that might have been useful.

My advocacy team and I contacted Travelocity on your behalf. A representative emailed you and offered the maximum $500 refund, plus a $50 voucher toward future travel.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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